3 components every employee engagement program needs to drive meaningful change to your customer experience + bottom line

Charles Cornwell | Dec 15, 2020 Charles Cornwell 12/15/20

Prioritizing the employee experience (EX) has never been more critical. From employees’ heightened standards of a safe + healthy work environment to the continuous need for improved diversity, equity, + inclusion (DEI) efforts, organizations must work harder to understand what matters most to employees and create the kind of employee-centric culture that wins their loyalty.

But while most companies are measuring some aspect of employee engagement, many lack the continued dialogue and follow-through employees need to feel heard and supported.

And who ultimately feels the impact of a disengaged workforce? Your customers.

Here’s the good news: organizations that prioritize the employee experience are rewarded—not just with more engaged employees—but with more loyal customers.


To help guide your employee engagement efforts, here are 3 components every comprehensive employee experience program should have.

1. Provide a modern platform that fits the needs of your enterprise

With access to a portfolio of high-tech products and reporting tools that collect + streamline your EX data into one holistic view, you can more efficiently uncover impactful insights on the employee experience. Let’s take a look at a few of these tech must-haves:

  • Voice of Employee (VoE) solution – For your employee engagement program to create long-term impact, you need to understand and manage the entire employee life cycle. This means combining point-in-time surveys (i.e., onboarding, exit) with an always-on VoE channel that gives employees a 24/7 outlet for providing unsolicited feedback.
  • Video capture – Video feedback brings employee experiences to life by adding emotional context and deeper insights to open-ended feedback. It also helps organizations gain perspective on the customer experience through front-line employees (VoCE—Voice of the Customer through the Employee).
  • Dynamic action-planning – In addition to action-oriented tools like real-time alerts and AI-powered text analytics, dynamic action-planning helps organizations customize goal-setting and seamlessly integrate objectives with existing opportunity areas—helping shape a targeted strategy for growth that impacts the entire company.


While this is not a comprehensive list, these tools will help your organization gather rich insights and take immediate action—showing employees you value their feedback by following through. Because the only thing more detrimental than not asking your employees for feedback is asking and doing nothing about it.


2. Connect employee engagement with the customer experience

Engaged employees are more loyal, helping create highly satisfied and loyal customers. And highly satisfied, loyal customers lead directly to growth in sales and profits.

That progression is called The Service Profit Chain. It’s a concept that was developed at Harvard Business School by a group including one of SMG’s founders, Len Schlesinger, and is the principle our company was founded on.

But The Service Profit Chain isn’t just an academic theory. When put into practice, it has a significant impact on financial performance. For the most intuitive results, your EX program should integrate employee feedback with customer experience data—demonstrating how higher employee engagement equates to better performance with customers.

Specialty retailer BevMo! was able to find meaningful correlations in their employee and customer experience (CX) data when an analysis showed a connection between top drivers of employee engagement (Rewarding Work and Opportunities to Use Strengths) and top drivers of CX (Availability of Merchandise and Availability of Assistance).

The brand leveraged these insights by launching two training sessions, one focused on sales + recommendations, the other on checkout + friendliness. They also implemented an employee recognition program.

The initiative paid off with a 3-ppt increase in Employee Satisfaction, a 2-ppt increase in Customer Overall Satisfaction, and 1–2% increase in add-on + private label sales.

3. Demonstrate the ROI of your employee engagement efforts

Implementing an EX program is only the first step. To gain the organizational buy-in needed for long-term success, you need to be able to demonstrate the impact higher engagement and lower turnover have on the bottom line.

When KFC saw employee engagement remaining flat and turnover rising, they leveraged their employee experience program for insight. Their SMG Clients Insights team ran a key driver analysis which showed KFC employees who receive recognition and training are more likely to feel they have an opportunity to use their strengths—a key driver of engagement.

To help fuel engagement, the leadership team launched the Rising Star program—providing consistent training and career goals. Some specific actions included:

  • Empowering team members to own their training
  • Providing employees with clear job expectations + opportunities to learn and grow
  • Creating a resource for managers to track where team members excelled

These engagement efforts not only created a double-digit increase in Opportunities to Learn + Grow and Overall Engagement, but also resulted in a double-digit decrease in turnover—saving the brand thousands of dollars in turnover costs.

To help brands calculate the business impact an employee experience program could have on their organization, we’ve created an interactive turnover calculator. See page 17 of this guide to plug in your information and calculate how much you could save by prioritizing employee engagement and retention efforts.

It’s time to invest in your most valuable asset: your employees

Engaged employees are more loyal, helping create highly satisfied and loyal customers. Today SMG continues to use the foundational principle of The Service Profit Chain to inspire experiences that improve people’s lives—helping brands get smarter about their customers, patients, and employees, so it’s easier to deliver actionable insights across their enterprise.

To learn more, download the guide: Why customer-centric organizations prioritize the employee experience: 5 ways to reduce turnover + drive growth. And for more information about SMG’s employee experience solution, please contact us here.

Charles Cornwell | VP, Employee Engagement + Product

Customer Experience Update